The ideal route for your 3-week Costa Rica impact trip
- Travel with a maximum positive impact
- Visit beautiful national parks
- Stay in extraordinary hotels in the middle of the wilderness
- Relax on the beach
Experience the beauty and diversity of Costa Rica during this 20-day Costa Rica holiday adventure. You’ll visit the favourite places of our Costa Rica travel experts. You’ll discover the country with a rental car and drive from coast to coast while enjoying the country’s vast flora and fauna on the way. And let’s not forget the heartwarming locals, of course. You will start your Costa Rica holiday in Tortuguero. If you’re lucky, you can see sea turtles laying eggs on the shore. After a tiring, but worthwhile hike near the Arenal volcano you can unwind in the hot springs. In Rincon de la Viejo you can see thermic activity, such as bubbling mud pools and steaming lakes. In Montverde you can take in the beauty of the cloud forest as you cross over suspended bridges. In the little park of Manuel Antonio, you will set off in search of sloths, monkeys and other wild animals and you can enjoy the beautiful beaches. You’ll end your Costa Rica holiday by spending the night in the middle of the rainforest near the Corcovado National Park.
Find out how our local travel expert can help you design your ideal trip
What is impact travel?
Better Places Travel is a social enterprise and certified B Corp. This means that we are committed to making a social impact above making a profit. As a social enterprise we find it important that the people in the countries we work with fully profit from tourism. This means, for example, that the people we work with receive a fair wage and have decent working hours and conditions. For you as traveller it means you’ll often stay in small-scale, locally owned hotels and accommodations and take part in local excursions that offer you a truly authentic experience. We also invest a portion of our profits in various social and environmental projects.
Route Costa Rica impact trip
- Day 1: San Jose
- Day 2-3: Tortuguero
- Day 4-6: Puerto Viejo
- Day 7-8: Sarapiqui
- Day 9-10: La Fortuna
- Day 11-12: Rincon de la Vieja
- Day 13-14: Monteverde
- Day 15-16: Carara National Park
- Day 17-18: Manuel Antonio
- Day 19-21: Corcovado National Park
- Day 22-23: San José and the end of your Costa Rica holiday
Share your travel wishes with Liesbet and she will send you a tailor-made proposal
Day 1 – Beginning of your Costa Rica holiday – arrival in San Jose
Your Costa Rica holiday begins in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Upon arrival at the airport you will be picked up by a driver and brought to your hotel. Depending on the time you arrive you can opt to explore the city. You can pay a visit to the national theater, one of the most gorgeous buildings in the city and grab a cup of coffee in a nearby café.
Day 2 – San José to Tortuguero National Park
Early in the morning you and a group of other international travellers will travel to Tortuguero National park. The first part of the journey leads you through the foggy forests of Braulio Carrillo, from where you will go to the lowlands of the Caribbean. The boat will take you through the jungle in about an hour and a half to your stop in Tortuguero National Park. After lunch in the lodge you can explore the village of Tortuguero. You can also explore the hiking routes and the lodges’ pool. At night you’ll fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle.
Day 3 – Tortuguero National Park
Today you will make 2 tours through Tortuguero National Park. The park is not only famous for the sea turtles, but also for the many species of birds, monkeys, sloths, caymans and crocodiles. In the morning you’ll take a bout tour through the canals. In the afternoon you will hike through the jungle in search of these animals. At night, under guidance of the park guides, you can visit the protected beaches of the park to watch sea turtles lay their eggs – a spectacular experience! You can reserve this tour at the lodge, but only between July and October.
Day 4 – Tortuguero National Park to Puerto Viejo
Today you will leave Tortuguero and travel to Guapiles. After having lunch here, your rental car will be delivered to you and you will begin the self-drive part of your Costa Rica holiday. You will drive to Puerto Viejo, a favourite on the Caribbean coast and a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures. There is always something to do here, from live music to cozy terraces to fine restaurants.
Day 5 – biking in Puerto Viejo & The jaguar rescue center
Today is a great day to rent a bike and explore the area by yourself. All around the city people rent out bikes. You could, for example, bike along the coastline of Manzanillo. On the way you could stop at the Jaguar Research Centre in Cocles. This centre rescues wounded jaguars, treats them and sets them out in the wild again. The fee you pay to enter the rescue centre goes directly to the conservation efforts of the centre and to the Shock Free Zone project. This project has a goal to insulate electricity cabled to ensure that sloths, monkeys and other animals are no longer electrocuted when they use the cables. Something that unfortunately happens quite frequently these days.
Day 6 – Visiting the Bri Bri Indians
Today you can visit the Bri Bri Indians. These Indians are one of the few indigenous groups that live in Costa Rica. This is as authentic as it gets on your Costa Rican holiday!
Day 7 – Puerto Viejo to Sarapiqui
After a drive of around an hour and a half you will reach Sarapiqui. You will drive through the lowland rainforest and past the pineapple plantations. If you wish, you can stop on the way at an organic pineapple farm. You will spend the night in a beautiful lodge in the middle of the rainforest. Here you can take beautiful boat rides on the river Sarapiqui or hike through the woods surrounding the lodge.
Day 8 – Sarapiqui
In the woods of Sarapiqui you will find diverse species of animals. Hiking here gives you the chance to spot sloths, monkeys and bird species like hummingbirds, toucans and parrots. Of course, you can also pay a visit to the Tirimbina Reserve. In this reserve you can hike through the forest on long hanging bridges.
Day 9 – Sarapiqui to La Fortuna
On the way to La Fortuna you will drive by the entrance of Poas National Park. The Poas is an active volcano in the cloud forest that you can walk up to in 15 minutes from the parking lot. If you hike up you will find impressive views of a smoking volcano. There is also a hiking trail to the lagoon. Aside from that, you should also stop at Muelle where many iguanas live. In the afternoon you will reach La Fortuna, which lies close to the Arenal volcano. This volcano has been dormant for a while and offers amazing views of the surrounding area. What’s also unique is the night-time visit to the thermal baths at the base of the Arenal. Something you certainly can’t miss during your Costa Rica holiday!
Day 10 – La Fortuna
Today you will have several different options of how to spend your day. You can visit a waterfall and swim in its waters. You can also book a day tour to Caño Negro. Caño Negro is a nature reserve that hosts a variety of aquatic birds, monkeys, caymans, crocodiles, iguanas and fresh water turtles. In the tour you will take a boat ride through the area and have lunch on the shores of the lake. Your other options are to discover the Arenal National Park or take a cooking class. At the end of the day you can relax in the thermal baths.
Day 11 – From La Fortuna to Rincon de la Vieja
Continuing your trip, you will now drive to Rincon de la Vieja, an active volcano. The geothermal activity is expressed through large geysers, boiling mudpools, waterfalls, hot springs, smoking craters and coloured lakes. You will spend the night in a large lodge on the border of the park.
Day 12 – Rincon de la Vieja
Today you will have lots of time to discover the surroundings of the lodge and the national park Rincon de la Vieja. In the park you can go on a scenic hike. This hike is well-marked and goes through tropical woods and past all sorts of volcanic activity, such as boiling mudpools, geysers, and smoking craters. You can also go horse riding in the area.
Day 13 – Rincon de la Vieja to Monteverde
Today you will drive to Cordillera de Tilarán (1600 metres) where the famous cloud forest of Monteverde is located. It is a lot cooler here and the weather changes often. Wind, rain and sun interchange each other constantly. These woods are home to the majestic Quetzal, but also howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, toucans, sloths and even wild cats live here. In the afternoon you can opt to go on an interesting evening walk with a local nature guide. Once the sun sets the woods come to life. During the hike you may spot frogs, tarantulas, sloths, kinkajous and other animals.
Day 14 – Monteverde
Today you will have the time to explore the cloud forest. You can go on beautiful hikes here. One extraordinary hike is the sky walk, where you walk over several hanging bridges. It’s unique to be able to see the woods from the perspective of a monkey, bird or sloth. If action is your thing then consider the canopy tour, where you can soar across the tree tops like Tarzan and Jane. Don’t skip a visit to the reserves of Monteverde and Santa Helena as well as a visit to the hummingbird and butterfly garden.
Day 15 – Monteverde to Carara National Park
Today you will descend from Monteverde to Carara National Park. Carara is one of the most popular national parks of Costa Rica due to its location near San Jose and Manuel Antonio. Despite that, it is still a gorgeous location. Here you will find toucans, and red, white and blue macaws. These birds will ensure stunning photographs. You can also take a boat through the mangrove forest in search of crocodiles.
Day 16 – Carara National Park
Today you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the lodge and the National Park of Carara. This park became a biological reserve on the 27th of April 1978 and is the base for a number of ecosystems like swamps, lagoons and riparian forests. There are many bird species to find here, such as macaws, parrots, trogons, hummingbirds, herons and woodpeckers.
Day 17 – Carara to Manuel Antonio
Today you will drive to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast. The unique thing of Manuel Antonio is its combination of beaches, tight-knit jungle, steep rocks and cute bays. It’s almost impossible to spend a day in the park and not see wildlife. Here you will stay in a gorgeous hotel built with sea containers that have been converted into rooms.
Day 18 – Manuel Antonio National Park
Today you have the whole day to explore. The Manuel Antonio park is filled with monkeys, sloths, iguanas and racoons. Don’t forget to take your swimming gear with you as there are relaxing bays that invite you to take a dip. You can also take a surfing class here, sail along the coast or go on a snorkeling tour.
Day 19 – Manuel Antonio to Corcovado
Today you will drive for about 3 hours via Chacarita to la Palma. Close to this town is an extraordinary hotel from which you can discover Corcovado. This park has the most biodiversity of Costa Rica. It boasts tropical rainforest full of waterfalls, secluded beaches and rich wildlife.
Day 20 & 21 – Corcovado National Park
During these days you will have time to explore Corcovado National Park. We recommend you to go on the hike with the guide from the Los Patos Ranger Station. With this hike you’ll follow the footsteps of jaguars and get chance to see all four species of monkeys native to Costa Rica as well as wild pigs. From the entrance of the park it’s about a 6 km hike to the Ranger Station, a beautiful, though at times also tough, hike over the steep slopes.
Day 22 – Corcovado to San Jose
Today you will drive back to the capital city for one last night. Your rental car will be picked up at the end of the afternoon.
Day 23 – end of your Costa Rican holiday adventure
Unfortunately, you time in Costa Rica has come to an end and it’s time to return home.
Hotel on stilts in Tortuguero
In Tortuguero you will stay in a hotel in the middle of the jungle. This location can only be reached by boat. The hotel has a swimming pool and a spa. Restaurants, bungalows and hiking paths are all built on stilts. This does not only protect the natural habitat of the animals, but also gives you a panoramic view of the tropical rainforest. The hotel also has its own water purification installation.
Visiting the Bri Bri Indians
With a visit to the Bri Bri Indians, you get to immerse yourself in the life and culture of the Watsi Bri Bri community. The village is located in the hills of the Talamanca mountains. After a hike through the rainforest, you will visit the local medicine man and his healing garden and meet the locals. You will learn everything about their way of life. You will enjoy a typical lunch made by a local Bri Bri family, served on banana leaves.
Stay in a ranch
In Fortuna you will stay in a special ranch on the shores of the Arenal Lake. This accommodation consists of 17 bungalows, each with a view of the volcano. This sustainable accommodation is completely self-sufficient. Everything is produced organically. If you want to, you can milk cows, collect eggs or pick herbs. You can also kayak on the lake, hike to the waterfalls or take a yoga class.
Learn cooking from a Tico
With a cooking workshop you’ll add a valuable experience to your Costa Rica holiday: the Costa Rican cuisine. You will learn everything about local dishes and products like yucca, tiquisque, mamón chino and sugar cane. The cooking class takes place at a beautiful farm by the El Salto Waterfall. You’ll make a delicious local cocktail. Afterwards you will learn to prepare a few typical Costa Rican dishes, such as ‘picadillos’, ‘tortillas’, and ‘guisados’ in Tico style. Of course, you will end the workshop by tasting your lovely self-prepared meal.
Extraordinary stay in Monteverde
In Monteverde you will stay in a beautiful hotel located in a mountain valley. You can go on several hikes to different viewpoints and may spot birds, agoutis and other wildlife. The hotel is connected to a farm where permaculture is practiced. During the tour you will learn all about this very sustainable form of agriculture. Apart from that, you can find sustainable solutions in all of the hotel’s practices.
Close to Corcovado, in the middle of the rainforest, lies a beautiful, secluded lodge. There are a few wooden bungalows scattered over the terrain in which you can stay. There are various scenic trails you can explore with an amazing view over the surrounding area from the watchtower. In the morning you will be woken up by the howling of the howler monkeys. The lodge is run in a sustainable way and supports the local community through various activities and rainforest preservation.
Share your travel wishes with Liesbet and she will send you a tailor-made proposal
Sustainable Development Goals
At the end of 2015, the United Nations set up 17 global goals to bring an end to poverty, inequality and climate change: the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals set guidelines to make the world a better place for everyone. At Better Places Travel, we believe that by travelling in a responsible way, tourism can make the world a better place. The great thing about responsible travel? Making the world a better place is goes hand-in-hand with making memories and having unique and authentic travel experiences. Want to know how you can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals while travelling? Click here to learn more.
Book a Direct Flight
By booking a direct flight you significantly reduce the CO2 emissions of your trip. And that’s just one of the many reasons to choose for a non-stop flight. Read more
We strive to make all our trips plastic-free by 2020. This means no more use of single-use plastic bottles. As a traveller you will on average use 15 water bottles per person in one week! This leads to a large amount of plastic waste, which unfortunately often ends up in the sea. Have a look at our many practical tips on how to reduce your plastic waste while travelling. Read more
Better Places Travel compensates the CO2 emissions of your entire trip, including the international flight you book separately. We use an award-winning carbon calculator to accurately compensate for all parts of your trip. We do this by investing in a Gold Standard project for efficient cooking appliances in Ghana. Read more